Packing tips, tricks and stories from local parents.

"We really didn't need most of it," recalled the Whitehall mother of two.

She laughs now about her decision to bring a portable crib - even though the hotel had one. Her son Cayden, who was 4 months old at the time, ended up sleeping in the hotel bed with his parents.

Erwin learned a lot from that trip.

"You have to tell yourself 'no,'" she said.

In addition to limiting the amount of kid equipment she takes, Erwin also began relying on reusable, sealable bags to organize her clothing.

When packing for a vacation, Erwin uses multiple bags for each member of her family. She places an entire outfit into a bag, presses out the air and seals the bag. She packs one outfit for every day of the trip plus a couple of extras for Cayden, now 4, and Elijah, 2.

Sarah Windisch of Gahanna uses a similar system. She recommends using 2.5-gallon, clear plastic bags. She keeps the bags in the suitcase and reuses them every time she and her husband travel with their 2-year-old son, Aiden.

The bags keep the clothing orderly and prevent airport security personnel from handling your clothing and other belongings, she said.

"It gives me a little piece of mind knowing they haven't pawed through my clothing," she said.

Windisch also uses sealable bags for any toiletry that might leak during transit. The bagged clothing also means that her husband, Adam, can easily dress their toddler without worrying whether he's putting on a matching outfit, she said.

"It's super simple and a timesaver," she said.

As kids get older, packing their outfits into bags will help them get dressed on their own while traveling, added Melanie Dennis, owner of Neat Streak in Gahanna.

The professional organizer said when her children were younger she treated packing for a trip as a way to teach planning skills.

Getting children involved in packing for a trip is a learning opportunity, she said. It's also a way to get them excited about the vacation.

Dennis suggests sitting on the bedroom floor with a child and creating stacks of clothing for each day that you will be away. Once the piles have tops, bottoms, sock and undergarments, fold the clothing and put it into a bag. If the kids are old enough, have them label the bags. Kids can write the days of the week on the bags or mark it as the outfit they want to wear to Disney World or other special attraction.

The bags make it easier to live out of a suitcase because their contents are not getting mixed up and separated, she said.

Dennis also suggests going over the vacation itinerary with children to help them think about the clothing and items they will need for the trip. For example, a trip to the beach will require a bathing suit, towel, sand toys and sunscreen. Talking about the weather and the planned activities will help kids develop packing know-how, she said.

"I ask them to think about what kinds of things we will need when we are not at our house for several days in a row," she said.

Dennis also has a strategy for packing her own carry-on. If she is going to the beach or a resort where there is swimming, she takes her bathing suit on the plane. A bathing suit is not something that she wants to run out and buy for herself if the family's luggage is lost. She also carries a pair of pants or shorts rather tops.

"You can pick up a t-shirt anywhere but shorts are a little harder," she said.